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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: S143615
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/28/2008

Prosecutorial misconduct requires reversal under the federal Constitution when it so infects the trial with unfairness that the conviction is a denial of due process; under state law, misconduct results even when the actions do not result in an unfair trial. (Darden v. Wainwright (1986) 477 U.S. 168; People v. Cook (2006) 39 Cal.4th 566.) Misconduct cannot be reached on appeal unless a timely objection was entered with a request that the jury be admonished. Although defendant can argue ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to object, the record usually is insufficient to support the claim and defendant must rely on a habeas action. Misconduct results when the prosecution argues guilt by association (People v. Casteneda (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 1067), asks the jurors to stand in the victim’s shoes (People v. Stansbury (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1017), and expresses personal belief in defendant’s guilt in such a manner that the jury will view the statement as based on information other than that adduced at trial (People v. Mincey (1992) 2 Cal.4th 408). In this case, appellant, a Catholic priest, was convicted of numerous counts of molest and sentenced to prison for six years and eight months. The appellate court reversed the judgment on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel resulting from counsel’s failure to object to the prosecution’s argument. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that there was no need to object as the prosecution did not commit the claimed misconduct of arguing guilt by association, urging the jurors to stand in victim’s shoes, or expressing a personal opinion in guilt.